Contractor guidelines protect victims |

Contractor guidelines protect victims

Betty "B" Gorman

The following guidelines and suggestions have been compiled via a set of meetings with the authorities and advice shared from individuals who have survived a disaster as well.

Please share this article with your friends and neighbors who have lost their homes in an effort to assist us in healing our community.

Contractor Information:

Any contractor working on a job, from debris removal to rebuilding, totaling $500 or more for labor and materials must be licensed by the Contractors State Licensing Board. To become licensed, a contractor must pass a licensing examination, verify at least four years of journey-level experience, and carry a license bond. Some out of state contractors and unlicensed California contractors may want to help with rebuilding; however, it is illegal and punishable as a felony to perform contracting work in a declared disaster area without a California contractor’s license. In the State of California a contractor is not required to carry Liability Insurance and thus it is incumbent upon the homeowner to ask in advance if the contractor carries this type of insurance.

Any contractor performing work on your property must have the following in place:

Valid state license (number must be notated on business cards)

A county business license (necessary even for national or state companies)

A city business license if working within the city limits

A city business license if the business is based in the city

Workmen’s compensation insurance

In an effort to protect South Shore citizens the State of California dispatched a Fraud Team to our area early last week. They will be patrolling the Angora Fire neighborhoods checking on anyone who appears to be providing services in the area. They are asking all contractors to carry the following:

— Contractors license and supporting identification

— Applicable Business License

— Proof of workmen’s compensation insurance in good standing

When the time is right for you to hire a contractor the Chamber will be happy to provide you with a list of our members. We suggest that you start with local contractors, architects and engineers as they will have the most comprehensive understanding of local policy and permitting procedures and environmental issues such as snow loads. When those businesses are not available we suggest that you look to our neighboring communities and we will also provide lists of contractors from our neighboring Chambers of Commerce in an effort to assist you.

Contracts and Insurance:

In order to protect yourself we would like to offer the following guidelines for your consideration.

You have just suffered a major loss which you will grieve as a natural part of the healing process. Do not rush into any major decisions at this time as it is easy to make judgment errors in times of stress.

It may take several months until you know what your financial resources are going to be pending insurance, federal assistance, low-interest loans and potential grants. Pending more accurate information you should not enter into any contracts until you know all the facts and figures for your entire situation.

Out-of-the-area Public Insurance Adjustors may legally begin to work in our community after 8 a.m. on Monday, July 16, and be assured they will be here. Be aware that their business is to negotiate with your insurance agent and their fee is typically 10 to 15 percent of the settlement before you get your funds. Should you opt to contract for such a service keep in mind that under California law you have 72 hours within which you may rescind the contract. Please note that these individuals must also be licensed and those not carrying proof are also subject to legal action.

Read your policy and don’t be in a rush to settle immediately. Your local insurance agent will work with you. If you are contemplating having a proposal done for rebuilding your home for the sole purpose of submission to your insurance company you should verify directly with your agent if such a proposal would even be considered. Many insurance companies utilize a computerized system which calculates square footage, neighborhood and other related factors in order to determine the costs and thus they will not utilize a contractor’s proposal.

Read your policy and read it again. While this can be difficult material it is crucial to your future that you try to piece all the details together and so you and your agent can move through the process more effectively.

When entering contracts do not pay hefty deposits or full payments for any services that are to be completed. A reputable business will not expect this and typically will require no more than a 20 percent deposit to initiate work.

Don’t be afraid to be more cautious than usual. Unfortunately there are predators who will try to take advantage of a bad situation.

Spend time with family and friends and those you know and trust from within your own community. This is a time for healing and support for you and your family members.

This is a time for rebuilding and recovery for out entire community. May we do it with integrity and compassion for all concerned.

— Betty “B” Gorman is President and CEO of the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce

Would like to help fire survivors?

Make donations to:

Angora Fire Fund

PO Box 17640

South Lake Tahoe, CA 96151

or go to any US Bank

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